Monday, June 6, 2016

Tortoises, Feathers, Sound and Farewells: Our Last Days

The last two weeks were filled with fun mini inquiries and projects during their play. 

I told the class that I would bring my tortoise Steven to class for a visit, but first they would need to create a safe and fun area to keep him in! This would be our last project. The kids worked in teams to draw and label plans and we took the elements from their plans to create this fun habitat for Steven!

We had a maze team, nature maze team and Lego maze team. We also had a wall team to create the enclosure, a ramp team, a quiet place team, and a beautification committee.

The wall team made sure that the area was totally enclosed so that Steven could not get out. All the maze teams worked hard to create mazes that Steven could travel through. They were careful to make them wide enough for him to fit through them. 

The beautification committee did a great job of making his habitat beautiful! They choose to use colorful glass beads. 

Can you see all the math happening here!? Measuring, patterning, grouping, symmetry. It is amazing how much math there is in art!

This stuffed turtle was close to Steven's size so they used him as a model to make sure the maze walls and cave were all tall and wide enough.

I put out materials for the kids to document what they noticed about tortoises. Paints at the easels, oil and chalk pastels...

and clay for my sculptures. 

Their attention to detail amazed me!

When we researched Russian Tortoises we found out they are vegetarians. They were curious what his favorite food would be. 

It ended up being the apple, which most of them predicted!

We did observational drawings of Steven as he crawled around visiting them.

Writing was also used to predict and record what his favorite food was.

Of coarse he spent a lot of time in the special area they created for him!

The measurements for his "quiet area" we're perfect!

Steven had a lovely time interacting with all of the kids! They are more social than you would imagine! He is a really great pet!

Another interest evolved in the last week with creating sound again! They started using recyclables to create instruments.

We had a ton of performances. Each band had to write down who was in it, what instruments they needed, and the name of their band! They were all very good! They loved watching the group STOMP for inspiration!

One STOMP video created a new interest in our sound exploration area created for our outdoor area by one of my previous classes. 

I had set out this provocation. I thought they would enjoy drawing these peacock feathers but they grabbed our microscope and took it in another direction so I added some other feathers. They became very good at focusing the microscope. This had been difficult for them before!

The loved using my iPhone to take pictures through the microscope and became quite good at it! We would display their pictures on the promethium board and the class would guess which feather it was.

I added some giant feathers to use as quills and liquid watercolor to our writing area and was amazed at the writing that happened here!

This friend is creating a program listing all the songs his band is going to play.

We also created these math beads as a gift for next years Kindergartners, along with a book of what they can expect in Kindergarten!

We had a Field Day that the kids LOVED! It was so much fun!

These kids hold such a special place in my heart! I really had a hard time on the last day knowing they would all be leaving to start their new journey at their new elementary schools. I know they are well prepared with 21st Century Skills that they have learned and that they will be able to apply them in all of their subjects, but I always wish their early childhood journey could last a bit longer!

Here is our final journey out to the busses on our last day! We had a hug/cry fest in our room just before so we could leave with smiles and happy memories!  Good luck my little friends on your new grade school adventure. Don't ever stop playing, wondering, creating and looking closer! Don't let go of your childhood so easily! I will miss you all always!


  1. Thank you for your inspiring posts. I am a teacher educator working in China. I often send my students a copy of your blog to help them with creative ideas for their classrooms. Every month I look forward to seeing what you and your class have done.

  2. AWWWWWW!!! I never ever tire of reading your blogs - what a blessing you are to so many!!!!

  3. You are truly an inspiration for teaching all age levels. The high level thinking that you promote and encourage your young students to do is remarkable. Love reading your posts and encourage teachers to visit your blog on a regular basis. Enjoy your summer.

    1. Thank you so much for those kind words! You also have a wonderful summer!

  4. Hi Darla - it is so amazing what you and your children do together everyday - the amount of detail and thought that goes into every project is astounding. You are truly an inspiration to me and all teachers who encounter you. Thank you so much for sharing your gift. I am a kindergarten teacher in a public north NJ school, who is trying to implement the Reggio style in my classroom. I have so many questions - especially about the beginning of the year and what to do in September. Do you have a post that discusses the beginning of the year? I am having such a hard time trying to organize what to do and how to slowly introduce children to each center. Do you have any suggestions? Any insight you have would be so valuable. Thank you again;)

    1. Hi Amy! I do have some blog posts that may help you out!

      Start out with only a few things available. For example, if you have an area with loose parts, start out with only two as they WILL dump them all out and mix them up. Same with blocks. I only let them use the bottom shelf of blocks. If they prove they are responsible enough to put them away in the right places, I'll open more. With paint, we start out with one color. With engineering, only legos are available, etc. They get more available to them as they prove responsibility. So many kids don't know how to play with open ended materials like blocks, loose parts and paint! They only throw them around or mix them up. It takes some time to show them and get them inspired in these areas. Good luck on your learning journey!!

  5. It has been months since he cleared out his Phoenix preschool and my kid is as of now still asking to head off to class, and telling stories of things that he's done with his kindergarten instructor. He always asks to see her.

  6. Hi Darla,

    Your blog is really amazing and so inspiring. I was wondering where you found the "what are we learning" in the different centres?

    1. Thank you so much! I found information for those by googling play based learning and blocks or engineering or home living and took that information to put them together. They are from a few years ago and unfortunately I don't have an electronic copy. -Darla

  7. So enjoyed reading this post! What wonderful learning in your room!